BOSTON – Monday’s game between Boston and Milwaukee was billed as Greek night, which you would imagine had to make Giannis Antetokounmpo feel at home.
He had a monster night for the Milwaukee Bucks, finishing with 40 points on 14-for-24 shooting with nine rebounds and four assists.
The rest of his team?
Not so much.
And it was Boston’s balanced attack that paved the way for a 111-100 win. Kyrie Irving led the Celtics with 32 points, with Al Horford chipping in a near triple-double (seems like he does this every other game, huh?) with 20 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.
Boston (21-4) got double-figure scoring from Jayson Tatum (17 points) and Aron Baynes (10 points).
The Celtics’ defense certainly played a role in Milwaukee’s less-than-stellar play in the closing minutes.
But Boston also benefited from a Milwaukee team that looked fatigued, and that’s not a stretch considering the minutes logged by the Bucks’ core guys in the second half.
Milwaukee head coach Jason Kidd played four of his five starters for the entire third quarter, and used just one substitution off the bench.
In the same period, Boston used nine players with only one – Jayson Tatum – playing the entire third period.
Once they got around to the fourth, Boston simply made the necessary plays to maintain at least a three or four-possession lead as they added yet another victory to their league-best record which now stands at 21-4.
Tatum got the Celtics off to fast start, scoring 14 points in the first quarter alone. And Baynes, in the starting lineup primarily because of his defense, made the most of Milwaukee’s defense not paying him much attention, scoring eight points in the first quarter which ended with Boston ahead 34-26.
Irving went into “I got this” mode in the second quarter, finishing the first half with 13 points on 5-for-10 shooting.
Meanwhile, Antetokounmpo was dominant as ever, scoring on drives to the basket, lay-ups and a few dunks including a couple over Baynes.
Boston pulled ahead by as many as 20 points in the third quarter, only to see its lead on the cusp of being single digits again.
Eric Bledsoe, whose arrival has brought about much-improved play by the Bucks, drained a 3-pointer with 3:23 to play in the third that cut Boston’s lead to 81-72.
Another Celtics missed followed by a basket by Milwaukee’s Malcolm Brogdon brought the Bucks within 81-74, only for a 3-point play by Irving that put the Celtics back ahead by double-digits.
But that sequence was in many ways symbolic of the kind of night that the Bucks had … good but not good enough.